Ask a Question

Anyone can ask something and there is no need to lo gin or leave you mail or stuff like that.

Just comment below and I’ll post it.

If you have a WordPress-Account and you happen to have several questions… just let me know, and I can make you a author… not of bestselling novels though. But you’ll then be able to post directly on the front page, and edit your posts…

91 comments on “Ask a Question

  1. Adrian says:

    In the subjunctive II, how do you know when to use werden vs sein/haben?

  2. Briguy says:

    Hey, I just have a question about word order, how would the following sentence read in German?:
    “I knew what I should have done”

    Also sentences like “I should have tried…”
    The answer just completely eludes me and I don’t even know what this construction is called or if there is a name for it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What’s the difference between hoffen and erhoffen?

  4. Anonymous says:

    what’s the difference between merken and bemerken?

  5. Edd says:

    I don’t suppose someone could check if this phrase is correct:

    “Ich glaube, dass dem Gemälde versucht, zu zeigen, sie ein sehr schweren Leben zu haben.”

    I’m trying to say something like: “I believe that the painting is trying to show they have really hard lives.”

    I understand the idea of subclauses like:

    Ich , dass (i.e., the second verb comes at the end of the dass clause). But I’m not so sure how to arbitrarily piece these together.

    The ideas I struggle with are how to use dass / zu constructs in big sentences, with several subclauses. If what I wrote makes sense, yay, but it’s a bit accidental! If you could explain why it’s okay that’d be great :). Many thanks in advance!!!

  6. SGG says:

    Hello,
    I have a question about the following sentence, it was taken from an MSDS (Material Safety DataSheet). What is the role of “sich” in “sich Lungentoxizität” in the second sentence?
    I understand the meaning but I don’t quite get the grammatical role of “sich” – is it reflexive pronoun to a reflexive verb, but in this case it seems to me neither “verursachen”, nor “zeigen” are reflexive. Then why sich is there?
    ====
    Obwohl Bentonit, säure-aktiviert Quarz enthält, demonstriert eine intratracheale Studie (Creutzenberg 2008) signifikante Unterschiede in der Toxizität nach Gabe von vergleichbaren Dosen von Quarz zwischen Bentonit(15,2 mg Bentonit mit 60% Quarz) und Referenz-Quarz (10,5 mg von 87% Quarz).
    Der Referenz-Quarz verursachte erhebliche, sich Lungentoxizität, während Bentonit eine signifikant geringere Toxizität und teilweisenRückgang während der Studiendauer zeigte.

    • This must be a typo or a classic copy paste mistake/editing-mistake… grammatically, as a reflexive pronoun, it makes NO sense here. It could be that it was supposed to be sichere or sichtbare. Considering that the final verb is zeigen… that can be used in a reflexive way too… so maybe the original version was something along the lines that “Im Referenzquarz zeigte sich eine erhebliche Lungentoxizität…”… but considering the position of sich, more than one editing step would have been necessary to get what is written there now… either way. It is simply a mistake :)… oh.. or maybe the author was about to type signifikant but then didn’t finish it and just wrote sig and autocorrect changed it to sich :)

      • SGG says:

        Blagodarya mnogo (this means Thank you very much in Bulgarian) for the quick reply! On the one hand, it really didn’t make sense to me, but on the other hand as my German is at B1 level, I thought I was missing out on some German grammatical nicety ;).
        And Blagodarya mnogo for the wonderful blog – I find it incredibly useful in my attempts to unravel the mysteries of the German language ;). I am a fluent speaker of English, Russian and Bulgarian and now I am trying to master German. And in this task your blog is a great great great help because it is up my street and my cup of tea ;).

      • Blagodarya mnogo for you kind words :) It is always great to hear that people appreciate this and find it helpful, despite it all being quite long (by internetstandards) … Ich bin sicher, dass du auch Deutsch meistern wirst… ich meine…. wenn DAS die Texte sind mit denen du lernst :D Wow… viel Spaß erstmal und wenn du mehr Fragen hast, dann immer her damit

  7. Hi there,
    I had a question about the Konjunktiv II. I totally get how to create it but what I really struggle to understand is when to use haette and wuerde. Do they mean different things in German? Because whenever I go to use haette its wuerde, or whenever I use wuerde its haette… any thoughts?
    Thank you! :)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hello
    so today I learned somthing cool about German
    das ist zum Haare Reufen = that makes me want to rip my hair out
    How versatile is this construction, can I also say:
    “Das ist zum Trinken” or “Diese Musik ist zum das Feiern Lassen.” (this music makes me want to leave the party)
    and how would I say “you make me want to…”?
    google was no help (as usual) it said “du machst mich wollen etw. zu tun
    would “Du bringst mich zu…” be better.
    z.B. du bringst mich zum Lachen (you make me (want to) laugh.)
    I’m sure I’v seen it before, I’m just not totally sure how its said
    Vielen Dank im Voraus!

  9. phillblack says:

    I was wondering what ,,eigentlich” meant. I’ve seen some people use it as like ‘actually’ or ‘stricktly speaking’ as in Sie ist eigentlich nicht mehr da. But I’ve also seen in song lyrics such as Eigentlich wollte ich mich nicht mehr verlieben, and that makes no sense.

    • Eigentlich… I still want to make that a word of the day so I don’t want to spoil it here :)… but what I will tell you is that it does NOT mean actually for the most part … at least 80% of the time when a foreigner uses it as actually it will be horribly out of place so I recommend to NOT use it. For questions it usually means “by the way”, for answers it expresses that your original opinion might be swayed… but I’ll do the post soon :)

      • Anonymous says:

        thanks for the speedy reply and I will keep my eyes out for your next post.

      • Climber says:

        After a disconcerting class on ja, denn, eigentlich, doch und mal, mixed in an hour, I would really appreciate your explanation on eigentlich.
        How much time is for a german “soon”?

        Your posts make German a little bit easier, so thank you very much for your time.

      • Hahaha… how much time is soon :)… yeah, you can totally call me out on that. We’re long past soon. I did start an article on “eigentlich” but I never really “felt” it, and as of now I’m busy with the book and the weekly posts are all prepared already. And also, someone else has done a decent take on it, so I didn’t think of it as a priority. I guess I just should stop making promises (I keep breaking them). I will do “eigentlich” … eventually.
        Here’s the link :

        http://marathonsprachen.com/actually-there-is-a-difference-eigentlich-vs-tatsachlich/

        I hope that’s helpful.
        My advice in a nutshell would be to just stop using it for a while. If you’re a native speaker of English 80% of the “eigentlichs” will sound completely out of place. That’s at least my experience from 5 years of teaching. It’s not the equivalent of “actually”, even though they are translations sometimes.

      • Climber says:

        Your link looks a little lighter than this one (32 pages):

        Click to access ikpab-nf08.pdf


        I can get on with my life without „eigentlich“ (at least I hope so), but after an explanation there’s usually an exam. I guess I must look for my “Deutschpartikelwürfel”.
        This is not a complaint, I understand you are human (are you a robot??).

        I thought Germans take time and pünktlichkeit really seriously, but if Berlin is not German… sind Berliner echte Deutscher?. Bist du Deutscher? Mmm… are you a robot?.
        Naja.. again… ¡muchas gracias!

      • Haha … no, I’m not a robot. I’m just under the influence of American “Unverbindlichkeit”, I guess. Took me a while to learn that “see you soon” means nothing. But I’ve learned it :). Deutschpartikelwürfel sounds like a neat invention. Deutschpartikelexam does NOT sound like a neat invention. Seriously, I don’t know what level you are but instead of writing an exam on such elusive a topic as particles they should just use the time and look at lots of example from colloquial media (like chats or stuff), so you get a feel for it. I mean… you can’t give that as a homework: “Get a feel for it till next Tuesday”. The deal with “eigentlich” is that as an adjective it is pretty similar to “actual”. But as an adverb, it has contracted the notion of doubt somewhere.

        – Ich will eigentlich nicht raus.

        This does NOT sound like “actually” at all. The sentence tells me that you were not planning to go out and the “eigentlich” tells me that you might be swayed … or that you use a word that implies you might be swayed just to make your rejection sound less harsh.
        Let me know if there’s anything specific I can help you with and I’ll try my best

      • Climber says:

        Ich habe eigentlich verstanden! .. ja.. kind of… Just joking, I think I get the idea. I promise I’ll use it zurzeit under my own responsibility and only if I have to in an exam. I think I can change the Deutschpartikelwürfel for a Deutschpartikelmünze. Things are getting better!

        Danke Emanuel und viel Glück bei dem Buch!

      • Danke :). Viel Glück beim Partikeltest

  10. Tietri says:

    Hello. What means the word “Dichterstunde”? Thanks in advance.

    • This is not really a word in that it has a fixed meaning. Also, it doesn’t make sense in a lot of context.
      Dichter means “poet” and “Stunde” means “hour” so literally it is “poet hour”.
      I could imagine this as a title for a TV-Show, where they talk about poetry or read poems. It could also be an event in a café (every Tuesday night – “Dichterstunde”). But other than that I wouldn’t know what to use it for. I hope that helps :)

  11. REX says:

    Hi. I found your blog very newbie-friendly and advanced learners can also benefit from it. Do you have similar blogs of teaching other languages you have learned? z.B. a North Germanic Language, or any Romance langage, or Finnish?

    • No, I don’t unfortunately. Also, I think at least when it comes to explaining words you have to have a native-like grasp of the language to get all the nuances and neither of the languages I learned is anywhere near that. Especially not Finnish. And at least my girlfriend often complains about my low level of skill in the Romance language :D

  12. Alex says:

    Hi, I came across this sentence in a game I play in German: Er müsste hier entlanggekommen sein. does it mean the same as Er hätte hier entlanggekommen müssen? In any case how would you translate it/them?

    • Hey man, in your second version there is a mistake… it should be either:

      – “Er hätte hier entlang gekommen sein müssen.”
      – “He would have had to have passed by here.”

      or:

      – “Er hätte hier entlang kommen müssen.”
      – “He should have passed by here (but he didn’t)”.

      But you can’t have a ge-form without a helper verb that causes it. And mind you… hätte is the helper for müssen, not for kommen :).

      The sentence in the game is a vague assumption that can be right or wrong… we don’t know yet. That is the difference to the other 2 versions. Those are clear in that the person did not pass by there. So… the sentence from the game in English:

      – “(So)… he probably passed by here.”

      Let me know if that helps :)

  13. Alex says:

    Yes it did :) Thank you very much!

  14. Alex D says:

    Hello there! For a while now, I’ve had a pressing question about this wonderful language and I just haven’t gotten around to asking my teacher (I’m a Sophomore in high school, taking my second year of Deutsch). But I think about German all the time, and I have a deep interest in learning the language, but that aside, here is the question;

    In German, when you’re required to modify a word because the following word is gender specific, like “eine Hausaufgabe” you add the “e” because Hausaufgabe is feminine. But what if you don’t know the article? I’m articly challenged, so to say, and I’ve always wondered how to solve this problem if I find myself in a situation where I’m talking to someone and I can’t look up the article to correctly modify what I have to say.

    Hopefully that made sense, and thanks in advance!

    • Articly challenged :D … I like that. Anyway, the question is a good question indeed and the answer is simple… you can’t do anything. When you don’t know the gender there is no point worrying about case endings or adjective endings.
      And my advice is to go with the female version… because first of all the female version is also almost ALWAYS the plural version independent of the gender AND the female version sounds the least confusing…. because when you use the male version for instance you’d say “der [female noun]” and a German would understand you mean Dative case… this case confusion doesn’t happen if you just use die and eine … it’ll be wrong but it will be clear what is wrong.. the gender.
      Now, one could argue to always use neuter so as to not offend one of the genders… but first of all there are way more female nouns than neuter ones and secondly many Roman languages just have male and female… so when they speak incorrect German it is one of those 2, but never neuter. So mistakenly making something neuter stands out more to people who have regular contact with students of German as a foreign language than making something male or female. French speakers of German do it a lot and it actually is charming.
      And there is yet another reason for female… it is the -e. This is crucial for the adjective endings because the -e will ALWAYS be there. You can read more about that here:

      http://yourdailygerman.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/adjective-declension-german/

      So bottom line… my advice is to use “die, eine, etc” if you’re totally lost. It is the least confusing and will be correct in about 40% of the cases which is more than pure guess-work could do. Hope that helps :)

    • briguy says:

      Alittle advise from another “articaly chalenged” American. the more words you learn, the easier it gets to learn compound words. take “Hof” for example. der Hof is always der Hof. So Flughof, Friedhof, Bahnhof, all are “der”. there are so few exeptions to this (die Wand, der Aufwand) that its almost foolproof. After learning about 100 words with genders, it becomes almost instinct. Also ending like (ion, ung, heit, keit…) are always feminan. so you start to associate the sound with the gender die Meinung, die Zeitung Der Vorsprung…. ooops, well theres always exeptions, but its 99.9 percent fool proof (actualy, sprung is like its own ending that is always der “Ursprung, Vorsprung…) so keep that in mide… from another Foregner (no idea how to spell that word) its really not to hard to get it right, but youll always make mistakes here and there.
      Hoffe ich geholfen habe!

  15. Alex says:

    Hi, it’s me again, the entlangkommen guy. I’m sorry to bother you again but I’ve entlanggekommen here because I keep wondering why it’s müsste and not musste, is it possible to say “Er musste hier entlangkommen” meaning that he had to (was obligated) to come here? And since in English by saying “he had to have come here” one basically means “he must have come here”, I’d guess there’s no “Er musste hier entlanggekommen sein”. Or of course I could be totally wrong about everything, in which case would you please tell me how you’d say “He had (was obligated) to come (along)”? Thanks in advance and again sorry to take up two consecutive posts.

    • Oh don’t worry about asking.. to be frank, I don’t really keep up with creating post from the questions anyway… lazy me :)… anyway… so…I don’t really remember what version we had in the first question so I’ll just do the whole pack:

      present – indicative

      – Er muss hier langkommen.
      – He has to/must come by here.

      past – indicative

      – Er musste hier langkommen.
      – (Er hatte hier langkommen müssen.)
      – He had to come by here.

      present – conjunctive 2

      – Er müsste hier langkommen.
      – He’ll probably pass by here.
      – He would have to pass by here.

      (context decides which version it is)

      past – conjunctive 2

      – Er hätte hier langkommen müssen.
      – He would have had to pass by here.
      – He would have had to have passed by here.

      It is not immediately obvious why it can mean either version… I think the reason is this: we’re talking about past. Passing by somewhere is a short action so it’ll be a moment or 2 and then it is done. Context suggest that what matters is not so much the moment of the passing but the fact that the person maybe did it… and that’s why I feel like both English version are included in the German… but maybe my understanding of the English nuances is wrong. Technically you could also say:

      – Er hätte hier langgekommen sein müssen.

      This would clearly be

      – He would have had to have passed by here.

      And oh man… I just figured I forgot the whole sein-branch…

      – Er muss hier langgekommen sein.
      – He must have passed by here (sounds like an assumption but a “has to” reading is theoretically possible)

      – Er musste hier langegekommen sein.
      – He (just) had to have passed here… again assumption but a straight forward “had to” reading is possible in theory.

      – Er müsste hier langekommen sein.
      – He probably passed by here.
      – He would have had to have passed by here.

      only context knows :)

      So… this was way less orderly than I originally intended but I hope it helps a bit… if not please keep asking. Keep in mind though that it depends on the verb itself which readings (assumption, vs condition vs mere statement) is the default… there are different kinds of actions and for some action a conditional is more common than a statement and vice versa

      • Alex says:

        Thank you so much, this is ten times better an answer than I could have ever hoped for :)

      • Alex says:

        ok that sounded like my hopes were down to start with, but that’s not what I meant, I only expected clarification about the past indicative and I got a lot more to read and study :)

      • HAHA… oh the internet and the uncertainty as to how something is understood :D… (hmmmm… should I really have capital HAHA, doesn’t that sound like I am laughing at the person? I’ll just add a smiley to clarify)

  16. briguy says:

    Je mehr ich Deutsche Musik anhoere desto mehr verwirrt ich werde! Ich habe diese Kustruktion ein Paar Mal gehoert, doch ich weiss noch nicht was sie bedeutet.

    Nuechternheit ist bloed, nuechtern sein tut mir nichts bring’n.
    und auch,
    Ich dachte ich konnte es erzwingen, der Selbstbetrug tat mir nichts bringen.

    Ich schaetze, dass dieser zweite Satz bedeutet im Englischen sowas in der Art von “I thought I could force it, but being dishonist to myself got me nowhere/did’t work out”.
    und was der erste Satz angeht, errate ich die Uebersetzung waere “Sobriety is stupid, being sober dosnt do me any good”
    Ich schagte “bringen tun” im fast alle bekannte Internetwoerterbuecher (pons, dict.cc, leo) und sie alle taten mir nichts bringen:) (sie bieten keine Hilfe an)
    ohh, und wie immer, Tausend Danke fuers geile Blog! Ohne es, haette ich sehr lange her aufgegeben, Deutsch zu koennen!

    • Also deine Übersetzungen sind im Groben schon ganz richtig. Diese Formulierung ist keinesfalls Standarddeutsch und ich denke nicht, dass man sie zum Beispiel in Zeitungen finden kann.
      Theoretisch kann ich das aber mit jedem Verb machen.

      – Ich tat nach Hause gehen.
      – Die Suppe tat mir nicht schmecken.
      – Ich tat den Film gucken.

      Vielleicht ist das ein alter Rest von früher … in Englisch sagt man ja of “I did do something”… allerdings funktioniert es in Deutsch kaum in der Gegenwart

      – Ich tue mir ein Buch kaufen… neeeeeee

      und es hat nicht diesen Betonungseffekt wie in Englisch. Es klingt ein bisschen trampelig.
      Also… NICHT MACHEN :D… nur als Spaß, so wie du es in der Frage gemacht hast, war perfekt.
      Dann noch eine Kleinigkeit… “to not do any good” ist nicht die beste Übersetzung von “nichts bringen”. Zumindest für mich impliziert das Englische etwas negatives, und das ist bei “nichts bringen” nicht drin…

      – Das bringt nichts

      heißt zum Beispiel.

      – That is pointless.

      Und

      – Das bringt mir nichts.

      geht in die Richtung von

      – I don’t get any benefit from that.

      Hoffe, das hilft… Danke für das nette Kompliment übrigens und gib nicht auf… für Deutsch braucht man wirklich Geduld glaube ich :)

  17. briguy says:

    Scheisse! desto verwirrter ich werde!

  18. briguy says:

    Je oefter ich meine letzte frage lese, desto klarer wird es mir, dass meine deutsche Grammatik manchmal wirklich versaut ist! Aber das macht mir nichts aus, perfekte Grammatik haben tut mir nichts bring’n:)

    • :D… versaut heißt eigentlich mehr so etwas wie “naughty” im Zusammenhang mit Erotik und Sex.

      Und noch eine kleine Sache… ohne das “es” klingt der erste Satz von dir viel besser… frag mich bitte nicht wieso :)

  19. Anonymous says:

    hy emanuel, first of all i wanna thank you the most for your FANTASTIC AND REALLY USEFUL BLOG!!!! It EXPLAINS WHAT
    CAN BE HARDLY FOUND BOTH IN BOOKS AND IN LANGUAGE COURSES…..well, AT THE BERLITZ SCHOOL
    CLASSES IN MY COUNTRY (ITALY), I’VE ALWAYS came across teachers WHO KEPT ON FOCUSING ON DETAILS I CONSIDERED NOT SO IMPORTANT (BORING GRAMATICAL ISSUES LIKE DECLINATIONS OF NOUNS AND ADJECTIVES UND SO WEITER…..) BUT SEEMED TO SKIP VOCABULARY, IDIOTISMS, COLLOQUIAL PHRASES AND
    EXPRESSIONS (THE REAL CORE OF A LANGUAGE ONCE YOU REACHED A LEVEL BETWEEN B1 AND B2). NOW I THINK GERMAN IS A WONDERFUL LANGUAGE BECAUSE OF ITS SUBLIME CONCEPTUAL SUBTLETIES AND, SINCE I WANNA GO DEEP INTO THOSE COMPLICATIONS AND “CATCH THE VIBES” OF THIS TONGUE, A PARTICULAR AND WEIRD PASSION HAS BEEN GROWING ON ME FOR A LONG TIME…JA ES IST SO LANGE HER…: I LIKE SOOO MUCH STUDYING VERBS WITH PREFIX. MANY OF THEM HAVE A PATENT DIFFERENCE AMONG EACH OTHERS, BUT THERE ARE MANY WHOSE MEANING IS REALLY HARD (FOR ME) TO DISTINGUISH. FOR INSTANCE: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE AMONG AUSTAUSCHEN, ABTAUSCHEN AND TAUSCHEN (WITHOUT PREFIX)?
    AND WHAT ABOUT AUSRICHTEN, EINRICHTEN and richten? THAT’S JUST A choice OF THE LARGE AMOUNT OF DOUBTS ABOUT THOSE DAMNED BUT FASCINATING (FOR ME….) VERBS THAT ARE ACTUALLY DRIVING ME CRAZY!!!

    • Hey man, thanks for that really nice feedback and I totally agree that there is put way too much emphasis on cases and declension… these are things you just need to pick up over time. Sure, you can understand the concepts behind it but applying the rules all the time would slow you down so much … and it doesn’t even hinder being understood that much.
      As for the prefix verbs… you are definitely not alone. I think many many many people out there have trouble with those and they don’t get enough attention at all in books and classes. But just keep asking your teachers… maybe they are just not aware how much it matters.
      Now as for your questions… I think richten would take a while to explain so I’ll put that on my to do pile. Same goes for tauschen kind of… but one thing I can say… abtauschen is rare to not existent and I don’t even really know what it could mean. Tauschen always has some notion of barter(trade) so if you don’t want that austauschen is the better choice… for to exchange. But the 2 are really close and in many situations they are synonyms. I know that was not the most detailed answer but I hope it helps a bit anyway :)

  20. Edd says:

    Hi there,

    Thank you for keeping your site going — it’s SO useful (just so that you know others find it really handy!)

    My question is the use of commas.

    I’ve learnt about sentences with ‘dass’ and ‘zu + infinitive’, but I still don’t feel so confident writing arbitrary sentences that I make up myself. I’ve read the stuff on your site too and this helps loads (much more than many of the boring grammar books); but am still having trouble.

    As I understand, it’s okay to write things like, “I know I eat many apples”, in two different ways:

    Ich weiss, dass ich viele Äpfel esse.
    or
    Ich weiss, viele Äpfel zu essen.

    But are they really the same? The literal English translation is slightly different:
    I know that I eat many apples
    vs
    I know to eat many apples

    Also, I was wondering what is possible to make up the main bit of the sentence (“ich weiss”), not the dependent part. Can it just be anything that can be / needs completing? E.g.,

    The sausages, …
    On Tuesdays, …
    I hope, …

    For “I must have forgotten it”, would that be:
    ich muß es zu vergessen haben.
    ich muß haben, es zu vergessen.

    ?

    Bit confused!

    Thank you in advance!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Hey, I was wondering what the difference between “haben and hatten” is. Alot of people say “ohhh easy, the same as have and had in english” but I really dont get that difference either. I think my dialect of english just uses “have” all the time (I’m from chicago). I had gone to the store, I have gone to the store” I would never actually say “I had gone to the store” but it sounds the same to me and neather a expressing something different.
    Vielen Dank im Voraus

    • Well, you’ll see the difference once you use “to have” as a “normal” verb.

      – I have a bike.

      That means that in the moment of uttering this, you have a bike at your disposal.

      – I had a bike.

      That means that at the moment of uttering you do NOT have it anymore… or maybe you do but a different one or it doesn’t matter whether you do now or not.
      Let me give an example… you’re telling someone a story of how you were chased by a dog 10 years ago…

      – “So this dog came at me all barking and I was totally scared…”
      “And … did he bite you?”
      “No… I have/had a bike.”

      If you say “have ” you’re switching to the here and now and that is confusing… who cares whether you have a bike now… what matters is that you had one back then.
      So… this is the difference between have and had and haben and hatten work exactly the same.
      Now … when you use it as a helper verb, that is in combination with another verb, the situation changes slightly.

      – I have seen this movie already.

      This means that at some point before you say that, you watched the movie. The watching is in the past, the knowing is now… maybe you don’t want to watch it again because you know it.

      – I had seen this movie already.

      This indicates that at some point before a reference point in the past you watched this movie… a little more context will make it clear.

      – 5 months ago, my girlfriend and I were debating what movie we should watch. She suggested “Battleship” (as all girlfriends would do) but I HAD already seen it.

      So… you’re telling a story in the past. And time of the story is your debate with your girlfriend. The “had” indicates that you watched the movie before THAT time. If you say “have” you’re only telling us that you watched the movie at some point before you tell us the story… but it might have been after movie night. Of course, the fact that you’ve seen the movie before that reference point in the past also implies that you have seen it before now… so you could look at “I had seen it” as a sub-category of “I have seen it”… so.. any movie you had seen (except conditional had) you also have seen. So if you just use “have” you’re on the save side. I have never been to Chicago so I don’t know the dialect but I think that in fact you’d use “had” as well… if you were in a situation that needs it. But this situation would be… you’re telling a story in the past and you’re giving information about actions that you did BEFORE the moment of the past in which your story takes place and those actions have bear no significance for the present… then that would be a moment for “had”.
      So… I hope I could clear it up a bit… if not, let me know what you’ve trouble with and we’ll try to figure it out

  22. Anonymous says:

    wow, quik response, less than an hour after I asked it!
    So I’d say
    “Ich hatte mein Fruehstueck gegessen, bevor ich mein Mittagessen gegessen habe”?
    so hatte is used for past tens before a different past event…? I had already seen this movie by the time I was 12. Ok, I guess we say that here sometimes, but ussually just “I already saw that movie…”

    Does english work like that too? It might seen wierd that I’m asking you about english, but I guess I’m really not to conscious of how I speak in everyday english. lol

    Ohhh, and just to clear something eles up, we do say had and have, just not really the past tense “had” as a modal verb.
    “I had spoken with him” sound a bit archaic, “I have spoken” sounds more normal, at least to me, so I still say “I had a good day yester day”, just not “I had seen that, before…”. Some people might say that, but it’s less commen, however I don’t think Chicago english is very different at all from standerd english (other than the fact that we replace the “th” sound with a “d” most of the time), so this could be just me hearing this difference.
    thanks for the explination, or as we say in chicago, Danx fer da explination:)

    • Hehe… yeah the answer was fast… I was writing something else then. But I won’t always be that fast :D
      The German sentence you wrote was pitch perfect!!!
      And as for English… I was actually thinking “English” the whole time :D. All the things I explained should be more or less valid for both languages… of course in a strictly “grammatical” manner. I can’t talk about how it is done in daily life in English. And ultimately I might be wrong about English entirely… I’m a lazy person sometimes and I don’t look up too much :).
      Anyway… I am pretty positive that what I’ve said is true. By the way, the “Chicagoian” you wrote down made me think of a Futurama character…”Clamps” :D

  23. Rabia says:

    Hi :)
    I just have a question

    Möchtest du auf die Party kommen? or Möchest du auf der Party kommen?

    As I know in that case it suposed to be akkusativ but I am not sure.
    Instead of it I use
    Möchtest du zur Party kommen?

    Rabia

    • You can say “zur” as well as “auf die”…. don’t say “auf der” ! But the other 2 are completely fine and I think people just decide by personal preference which one to take :)

  24. Sakshi Chauhan says:

    An der Kasse ___ wir eine halbe Stunde _____perfect form of warten First alphabet h and last alphabet t
    fast.before 12:00 clock of night

  25. anjali says:

    Herr
    konnte man hier,egal wie viele Frage , stellen??
    und Sie wollen uns immer bereit zu antworten ?
    :O gr8
    well im an intermediate learner ……if thats the case i will say my problems have found gateway tosalvation

    • I’ll try my best but I have very little time at the moment so frankly… I probably can’t answer everything and other answers might be very brief. I was hoping that more people would contribute here but for now it is just me and that is a problem.
      You can try anyway :)… and here’s another forum:

      http://www.german.stackexchange.com

      There are more people answering and they are quite good :)

  26. Alberto says:

    Hey, loved the article about ver and the way you always try to explain stuff rather than just saying “it’s like that and there’s not much to it”. Anyway, I have problems with verbs that can either be reflexive or not, determining when a verb becomes reflexive and when it doesn’t is a huge deal for me. f.e. these are two example sentences from my workbook:
    Darum habe ich mich für Sport entschieden.
    Erfolg kann mir nicht plannen, oft muss man spontan entscheiden.
    I don’t get it, to me both times the subject decides “for himself”, so why does the second sentence not have a sich? If you could give a general rule of thumb that would also be great :)

    • Alberto says:

      And now there’s another thing that came up in the next exercise, the answers at the back say that the following is correct:
      Zur Party ziehe ich heute Abend den neuen Pullover an.
      yup, no mir there. And all this time I thought anziehen was always reflexive

      • Tough question and I’ve seen that you’ve asked it in that other forum too :)
        I’ll just add my two cents about the mir… that is often optional but people like to use it to make things sound more personal.

        – Ich kaufe ein Buch.
        – Ich kaufe mir ein Buch.

        The difference is subtle but the second sentence clearly indicates who the book is for, so there is a small difference in meaning… at least when you use computer logic an make no assumptions :).

        As for the party-sentence…. “anziehen” has a much stronger notion that you do that to yourself.

        – Ich ziehe den Pullover an.
        – Ich ziehe mir den Pullover an.

        The mir in the second one is a little redundant as we usually dress ourselves. But it is not wrong. In the party sentence though it would sound a little out of place. Because “zur Party” kind of already indicates the target of the pullover… on an abstract level. So with “mir” we would have 2 targets for pullover… myself and the party, if that makes sense. And hence it is missing.
        Hope that helps and I am curious myself what the others are going to write about the bigger question :)

  27. Alberto says:

    Thanks for the one with anziehen, the explanation that was given in the other forum about anziehen was just awful, stating that there are no verbs that take the reflexive pronoun in the dative.. As for the enscheiden one, I think I kinda got it but if anyone can offer an even better explanation, please be my guest :)

  28. Sam Hardman says:

    Could you explain the sentence “Gekommen Um Zu Bleiben” which according to google trnaslate means “come and stay with me”. Of course google translate could be wrong but I don’t unserstand how those words in German translate to that sentence in English, I would have said something like “Kommen und mit mir bleiben”.

    Thanks!

    • Oh my god, Google EPIC FAIL!!! :D… the translation is so off, it is astounding. I honestly don’t understand where Google got the “me” from. Anyway
      The sentence is a short form of

      – [Wir sind, ich bin, er ist] gekommen, um zu bleiben.

      You can insert every person there of course…

      – [We, he, I] came to stay.

      German uses a perfective tense here so the whole thing would be:

      – have/has come to stay

      or in real English

      – Here to stay.

      Hope that helps :)

  29. K says:

    Hey. I’m a big big fan of German is Easy – it always helps clear the fog on German for me. However – just as each mist clears – another fog comes rollin in across the Rhine. My question is about JETZT ie NOW. I heard a sentence in an interview on youtube in which ‘Jetzt’ introduced a negative slant on the sentence .. then i found this … http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/jetzt and in particular definition 2. Could you explain a little more on how Jetzt as a negative element works?

    Thanks so much. K

    • Hmmm…. I don’t actually know. I couldn’t think of an example in which “jetzt” would be adding a negative touch that wouldn’t be there otherwise. I checked German Wiktionary and they don’t list anything of that sort either:

      http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/jetzt

      So… it would be great if you could give me the example you heard. Then I can tell you more .. hopefully :)

      • K says:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPa293t1Dlc around 20 seconds in. Maybe I’m not hearing it correctly but I’m hearing “Wenn ich jetzt ein so Platte gemacht haette, haetten die mich vielleicht anders verkauft … ” Which in the context seems to mean “If i hadn’t made a record like that, then …” I’m most likely getting the wrong end of the stick tho.. !

      • Okay so you’re transcript was almost correct. She is saying “Wenn ich jetzt ein(e) Soulplatte gemacht hätte…”
        The sentence is something like:

        “If I had made a soul album, marketing would probably be different…”

        There is no “now” in the translation because I think the “jetzt” doesn’t really add anything. It is a very common phrasing and if I HAD to decide for a notion that “jetzt” adds I would say it adds the idea of alternatives.

        -Wenn ich eine Soul Platte gemacht hätte…

        this sounds dry and as if soul was the only alternative and a realistic one too. It’s like “either or”. With the “jetzt” it becomes more of a “a soul record of all things” but without the unrealistic slightly negative touch that has.
        So… jetzt does not mean “now” but it is not negative either. Here’s a positive example:

        – Wenn ich jetzt mein Zimmer aufgeräumt hätte, dann könnte ich jemand mit nach Hause nehmen… aber so laß ich’s lieber.

        Hope that helps a little :)

  30. K says:

    SOUL! Nicht SO.. vielen vielen Dank! Another mist rolls away..

    Really interesting stuff on that subtle change using jetzt can bring.

    Cheers!

  31. Alberto says:

    Hi, I just read your post about time prepositions and I’m a little confused. I made a supposed “guide” image to help me use them, but I’d like you to see if it’s correctly labeled, the link is:

    • Yeah, that is pretty cool… there are a few things missing …like “bis in” or the fact that bis can range from the past into the future. But I think you got that :) And then there is missing “von – bis”… which is “from – till” and drawing on that “von vor/in – bis vor/in” but that was supposed to be in the missing part :D

  32. Doug says:

    How do you say ‘bowl cut’ in German?

  33. Doug says:

    The haircut

  34. Ben Hemenway says:

    Hi. Thanks for your work, it’s very helpful. I have a few questions. The first is about declension.

    I am trying to translate the following sentence: “Strangely enough I met Glenn on Monk’s Mountain, my childhood mountain.”

    In this case I am wondering what case “my childhood mountain” would take. Is it dative following “Monk’s Mountain”, or would it be some other case (nominative perhaps) because it’s sort of in it’s own clause (I don’t know what to call this part of speech — not a clause exactly, not a relative pronoun, but at least cordoned off from the rest of the sentence by the comma)?

    That’s my first question. But this text that I’m translating has a lot of similar constructions, such as, “From one moment to the next I hated my piano, my own, could not bear to hear myself playing.” So I’m wondering if in German it is OK to build sentences in a similar way.

    Just to be clear: in English we can say,

    “James, my friend, bought me an ice cream.”

    or even,

    “James, my friend, bought me an ice cream, paid for that ice cream right out of his own pocket!”

    So you can imply equivalence (whether in regards to the subject or the predicate) simply by stacking on another phrase next to the original one. I cannot remember seeing anything like this in German before. But the text that I am translating is itself translated from German, so I am assuming he is doing something similar in the original.

    Let me know what you think. And thanks again!

    • Hey Ben, those are really interesting questions but I’d ask you to ask them again over at yourdailygerman.com. This forum here was discontinued a long time ago, I just haven’t taken it down yet, so no one would read the question. That’d be a pity so yeah, if you could copy paste it over to yourdailygerman and put t somewhere there (either an article on cases or on word order) that’d be great. To give you at least some answer though… yes, this kind of sentence sequences “James bought me an ice cream, paid for it from…” are possible in German and I think the feel they evoke is the same.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Wann muss man ‘tun’ oder ‘machen’ benutzen? Gibt es mehrere Synonyms?

  36. TheoryLab says:

    Hello.
    I was wondering if in a sentence, one could put a ‘weil’ clause after an ‘um…zu…’ clause has already been used. I wasn’t sure if this was a thing one could do, because it looks a bit weird when written down.
    For example – Ich werde mehr Training machen, um fitter zu bleiben.
    That is a sentence, but is “Ich werde mehr Training machen, um fitter zu bleiben, weil es wichtig ist.” a sentence aswell?

    Thank you, I just got a bit confused.

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